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Guidelines for Effective Communication

​​​Guidelines for Effective Communication with a Hearing Impairment

  • Look at the speaker. Position yourself to get a view of the speaker’s face.

  • Consider having your eyes examined to maximize visual cues.

  • Avoid bluffing, or acting as if you understand. Ask questions instead.

  • Try to direct the conversation to a quiet area of the room.

  • Eliminate background noise by turning off the TV or faucet.

  • Use assistive listening devices.

  • Maximize the use of lighting. Have the light source behind you instead of behinds the speaker.

  • Avoid sitting close to hard surfaces as sound may bounce off of these surfaces, causing reverberation noise that will make it even more difficult to understand what someone is saying.

  • Reduce the distance between you and the speaker.

  • Explain your needs to the speaker. Explain in a polite way how they can become a more effective talker.

  • Ask for repetitions. Repeat or rephrase what you think you heard.

  • Relax! Don’t strain to understand every word that is spoken.

  • Try to maintain a sense or humor and be prepared to laugh at your mistakes!​​

Guidelines for Effective Communication with Someone with a Hearing Impairment

  • Avoid interrupting other speakers. It is difficult for someone with a hearing loss to follow a conversation when more than one talker is speaking.

  • Indicate and identify any change in who is talking.

  • Avoid calling out to the listener from a long distance or another room.

  • Provide written information when necessary.

  • Ask the listener what types of things make the message easier to understand.

  • Rephrase when repeating is not enough.

  • In group settings, repeat questions or key points before continuing with the discussion.

  • Slow down but don’t exaggerate your speech.

  • Avoid shouting. Speak naturally, clearly, and distinctly.

  • Remove obstacles, such as food, gum, hands, from your face when speaking.

  • Pay attention to the listener, so you will notice when she or he seems confused.

  • Face the listener. It is difficult for the listener to hear or make use of any lipreading cues when your face is turned away.

  • Get the listener’s attention first by touching the shoulder or raising your finger.

Adapted from ASHA’s Audiology Information Series, Communicating with people with hearing impairment, 2003


For further information about communication strategies for listeners and talkers, visit the Better Hearing Institute online at

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